Previous Trivia Answer: Philadelphia (strangely enough)
Today’s Trivia Question: Which U.S. president is on the $100,000 bill?
I went to the Chess Club CD release party for A Generation of Pleasure Seekers last night at Neil’s. You normally couldn’t drag me kicking and screaming into Neil’s, which is strange, because it is only of the only bars in Midtown Memphis that I just do not enjoy visiting. I think it comes from the fact that it used to be a restaurant and wasn’t converted very well to a bar. Or maybe it is their frustrating sign outside that you have to look at every time you are stopped at the Madison-McLean stoplight that reads “Free Beer Tomorrow”. They really shouldn’t tease hot and thirsty Memphis drivers in the middle of July.
I work with one of the members of Chess Club, co-founder and keys-vocalist Doug Walker, but that isn’t enough to make me see over a dozen of their shows over the past three years. There is just something in their music that is infectious. You don’t sit around craving it, but when it comes on, it pulls you somewhere else. In a lot of ways, it is like a French movie or taking in an excellent art gallery. When the show is over, you’re glad you went, you’ve changed in a way difficult to quantify, and you can’t figure out how they pulled off what they did.
A Generation of Pleasure Seekers is Chess Club’s first real record. They’ve released singles before, as well as a self-produced EP, but the new album is the real deal. Produced by Jeff Powell at Young Avenue Sound, it is evident that everyone put in a lot of hours getting everything just right. The production really lifted up the masterful, yet quirky, songwriting of Doug and guitar-lead-vocalist Jason Barnett. On songs like the melodic, catchy Leche Marron, the thoughtful Boy On a Bicycle, and the Chess Club classics, such as Hey!, Hardcore Pink Hearts, and Apes, the album gives the group just a few milliseconds of clean, pure silence throughout the songs to pull the listener back into the flow of the music. I wouldn’t call it “cleaning up the songs,” but the end result is a smooth, yet textured, sonic tapestry that makes you pay attention.
Chess Club would probably be classified by most as pop, but like most labels, this one doesn’t stick well. Check them out on iTunes and see what I’m talking about. Speaking of iTunes, A Generation of Pleasure Seekers should be available there soon, but the Chess Club EP is available there now (search for “Chess Club”). The new album should be available at record stores throughout Memphis (and hopefully beyond) this week.